IOC’s forest network to help restore ecology

Community-based forest management will be central to the project aimed at improving the lives of the local tribes, many of whom rely heavily on forest resources for their livelihood.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

BHUBANESWAR: Amid India’s decision to aggressively bid to host the Olympics in 2036, the country has joined the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Forest Network for the implementation of an ecological restoration project in Odisha.

India is the sixth country after Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain to launch the Olympic Forest Network initiative. Called the ‘Odisha Ridley Forest Initiative’, it was highlighted, during the IOC’s 141st session in Mumbai as an extraordinary endeavour seeking to go beyond conventional ecological restoration.

The initiative implemented by the Odisha forest department in collaboration with the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust and The Habitats Trust, aims at planting one million trees over an area covering 1,500 hectares across the state in phases.

Officials of Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust said it is a comprehensive project that involves reforestation, community-based forest management and preservation of local plant and animal species.

It also focuses on rejuvenating grasslands and wetlands as well as the protection of unique local species.

With Odisha home to a diverse range of tribal groups who have deep cultural and historical connections to the region’s forests, the initiative, according to IOC, intends to support the ecological restoration of a variety of forest types. Community-based forest management will be central to the project aimed at improving the lives of the local tribes, many of whom rely heavily on forest resources for their livelihood.

Officials of the Odisha Forest and Environment Department said the project will be taken up in eight divisions - Khurda, Kalahandi South, Subarnapur, Puri (Wildlife), Cuttack, Boudh, Phulbani and City forest division - for which 22 plantation sites have been identified.

Accordingly, a baseline survey has been launched by the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust and the Habitats Trust from October 16.  The survey will continue till November 11. “In Khurda division, around 30 hectare land have been identified for the plantation of 48,000 saplings, while another 55 hectare area has been identified in Puri Wildlife Division for plantation of 1.37 lakh saplings. In City division, 10 hectares area have been identified for artificial regeneration (AR) and another 30 hectare for assisted natural regeneration (ANR) plantation under ridley forest project,” said Regional Chief Conservator of Forest, Bhubaneswar Circle, Sanjeet Kumar.  Kumar said around 25,000 saplings have already been planted in the City division comprising parts of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

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